What is Social Security?

All refugees that do not have a Special Immigrant Visa need Social Security in order to get a job and receive government services and benefits. For the application, click here.

Assisting a refugee with applying for Social Security Cards


Appointments are not needed to apply. The Social Security Administration (SSA)’s is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 pm. On Wednesday it closes at 12:00pm. Newcomers should not apply before their 10th day in country, but they must apply before the 14th work day after arrival. If newcomers apply before the 10th day, their identity may not have been cleared by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and their card will be delayed by a month or longer.


Durham Social Security Office (Durham and Orange County)

3004 Tower Blvd. Durham, NC 27707


Raleigh Social Security Office (Wake County)

4701 Old Wake Forest Rd. Raleigh, NC 27609

What to Bring

IOM bag, containing the I-94 or visa-93. If here by visa, must also show passport. (The IOM bag is a white bag given to refugees by the International Organization for Migration and refugees should know what to bring if volunteers say “IOM bag.”)

What to do

Applications are available online and at the social security office. Volunteers and newcomers are to walk in and check in at the computer – they should pull the ticket for new application. You will receive a number and must wait for this number to be called. Families can be together on a single ticket. Volunteers should make sure they are listening for the number to be called and then direct refugees to the appropriate window. Volunteers will give the application and the refugee’s TSA/I-94 documents to the officer. The officer will give the volunteer and refugees a document after the application is processed stating that the refugees have applied. This document needs to be given to the case specialist. There are two pieces of information the volunteer needs to obtain in advance. Newcomers who apply must provide their father’s names and mother’s maiden name. For adults whose parents are not here, volunteers should ask them (possibly via interpreter) what their parents’ names are. In addition, every applicant must provide their city of birth. This can be obtained from the refugee or the refugee’s medical paperwork, also found in their IOM bag. Remember that, for instance, children may have been born in the refugee camp in Thailand, but the nationality is still Burma/Myanmar. Thailand has not given them citizenship. The same logic applies to other ethnic groups. Children under 12 do not need to be present for SS card applications. This can at times be helpful if transportation is an issue for a large family and there is someone in the community to watch the younger children.

Important Note

SS card applications ask for applicants’ mailing addresses. THIS NEEDS TO BE THE WORLD RELIEF OFFICE MAILING ADDRESS – NOT THE CLIENT’S MAILING ADDRESS. This helps WRD ensure the card is received and keep records. Volunteers should write the mailing address as: 801 Gilbert Street, Suite 209, Durham, NC 27701


If an SSN is not received within the two to four weeks noted on the application receipt, volunteers should follow up with the local SS office. Volunteers should document all interactions with the office – if six weeks have passed and the volunteer has contacted the local office a minimum of three times, case workers may then contact WRD Home Office and submit a delay form. Home Office may then contact the regional SSA office.